INTERVIEW: F. Stokes Aims to Educate With “Rappin’ Ricky”

Rapper F. Stokes has seen a good chunk of the world. He’s toured overseas, put out releases to critical acclaim, and consistently finds a way to evolve. His latest project, however, sets his sights on helping out the youth with “Rappin’ Ricky”, a children’s hip hop series with an educational message. The project has already eclipsed its Kickstarter goal with some time to go, and additional funds are being raised to help develop the series further. We asked F. Stokes to give us some background on “Rappin’ Ricky”, as well as how it will affect his rap career. Check out the interview below, and make sure you check out the Kickstarter page here.

How did the concept of Rappin’ Ricky come about?
Ricky was born in the spirit of Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin, though cultivated to reach kids of all socio-economic demographics, races and ages. It was important for me as a disciple of change, to use Hip-hop as a positive tool that would actually enhance the lives of people all over the world. I suffered, at times, in school due to the all around mechanical structure of the classroom. My partner Sonya Zhong and I are working hard on creating a culture of educational fluidity; when the learning process doesn’t end or begin in the classroom, but more so flows throughout the child’s daily life. The social lessons that Ricky teaches are just as important as the educational.

Your last several projects have had some good acclaim come from them. So, why do a children’s project now?

That’s nice of you to say, and I appreciate your support. I’ll be honest, I don’t necessarily care what people or critics think of my music, good or bad. Though it’s humbling and I could not be more appreciative. The reason I’ve dedicated this chapter of my musical journey to childhood education is because I was tired of seeing little kids of color, in particular, feel unconfident and misunderstood in the classroom. Hip-hop can help fix that. My career as a musician has allowed me the blessing of traveling the world and connecting with people of all walks, now its time I pay those blessings forward by helping tomorrow’s leaders.

Are you concerned that Rappin’ Ricky might make F. Stokes “that children’s rapper guy”?
No. Not at all. Part of the beauty of Rappin’ Ricky is that its from an authentic source. If I’m known as “that children’s rapper guy” that would mean that Rappin’ Ricky was a great success, right? My life, and music catalogue, is far too dynamically layered to allow any moment or creative endeavor the power of defining my legacy. I much prefer to be known as “that children’s rapper guy”, than that Black dude who was killed last night.
Does Rappin’ Ricky have a sound? For example, is he more backpack, old school, etc.? (The concept of educational trap does sound intriguingly funny…)
We’re still feeling out Ricky’s sounds, but he has a mixture of all of that. Hip-hop, historically, hasn’t changed that much in terms of how we structure songs. Thats why I love Migos, because those kids are actually changing rhyme patterns. Ricky’s sound will reflect popular music, from trap to old school rap.
Educational cartoons have tried to tap into the “urban” market before. What sets Rappin’ Ricky apart from that?
The source. In the past it’s been done by squares or 45 year old white fathers trying to rap – off beat – over an Eminem track. I have the swag to sustain it. My story is authentic and believable. I am the well, the apple tree in which this message should come from. The reason those other companies failed, was because they didn’t have a guy like me at the table with credibility, who could execute.
What’s the biggest goal you’d like to see achieved for this project overall?
The biggest goal is for Rappin’ Ricky to reach Dora The Explorer heights. But if we can touch one child, thats a victory.
How do you see working with the Rappin’ Ricky team being different than a traditional hip hop project?
All of the homies, from Doomtree to Jillionaire, have been supportive. The biggest difference is that me and Sonya are building a startup, essentially, so from a business standpoint it’s been a bit more precise and put together. Everything we do has a purpose, when typically I would drop free music left and right, every Rappin’ Ricky’s song will have an economic intention.
When is the anticipated date for the first Rappin’ Ricky mixtape to be released?
November 2015 brother!